Today, I’m a train ride away from Manhattan on Long Island’s North Shore. This is a super wealthy community. This is old money. I’m talkin’ the Vanderbilt’s, the Astor’s, the Whitney’s, J.P. Morgan, and when you’re this rich, you don’t have time to go into Manhattan to buy a new outfit for the yacht club or a polo match or one of those weird eyes wide shut parties.
You just go down the street to the fanciest shopping center around, Americana Manhasset. To understand extravagance of this scale in breadth, I needed to speak to someone who knew the Manhasset inside and out so I met with Deidre Costa Major, the president of the property. What is Americana Manhasset? How would you describe this mall? First I would tell you we’re not a mall, we’re a shopping center.
We’re a shopping destination. It looks like a mall. There’s a bunch of stores. Peter Marino, our master architect, does not do malls so it’s only a shopping center. The makeup is to have two streets, one on either side. So we have, on the north side, the luxury brands. On the south side, the contemporary brands. Well, it’s much smaller than your traditional suburban mall. We’re a small footprint and so we only have the best of the best.
Now, if you’re lookin’ to do some shopping at one of the best of the best in luxury, but you’re far too lazy to do it all by yourself, you’ll want to head to the Manhasset’s personal shopping service, where someone like Lucianna Giambrone could do all that hard work for you.
So a lot of our clients don’t necessarily always have the time to shop at their convenience so we wanna make it easy for them. We have two assistants that help us set up the room for our clients. I like to always be involved. I have to see what’s out there, what I think can work. Do people come in not knowing anything about what they want and just need some style advice and redo their wardrobe?
Yes, that happens all the time and we do closet consultations, as well.
So before we start adding things in your closet that I’m not really sure that you exactly need, I will go to the home, we’ll schedule an appointment, and we’ll purge some items that I don’t think will work in your closet anymore. Purge ’em, get ’em out of there. And then we’ll add new pieces that can work with the existing pieces that you have so you’re not just buying in bulk and then feel like you still don’t have anything to wear.
Lucianna has more than 100 clients, from normals like you and me to A-list celebrities. What do celebrities like about this kind of space? We’re very fortunate to be privately owned so celebrities feel more at home here, it’s quiet, we’re under the radar, and they are allowed to shop the center without feeling like people are on top of them. So they can go out and walk the center and not get harassed here? Absolutely, yep. You like, stop photographers, the paparazzi at the gate or something? Yes, exactly. There you go.
That’s what we do. Since I knew the pap wouldn’t be all over me, I felt like it was time to shop so I headed to Hirsh Leifers, a high-end department store and one of the Manhasset’s original shops. Hi. Hi. Welcome to Hirsh Leifers. All right, so what is this place? We’re a luxury specialty store that’s been here in the Americana Manhasset for over 60 years.
We were one of the original tenants and actually one of the first tenants to bring luxury out to the center. 60 years ago it was nothing like that. There was a supermarket, a movie theater, I think there was a great fondue place. The luxury market has changed dramatically over the years and certainly accelerated over the past three to five years. Our Chanel client is wearing Air Force Ones with their $12,000 Chanel blazers and vice versa. You know, I think the convergence of luxury and street, it’s a marriage and it’s not going anywhere.
How often are you moving stuff around, and renovating, and changing things in the store? We’re under constant change. Constant change, constant drops, constant events. We all know what’s going on now, certainly. Department stores are an having issue. Online has certainly done things to the industry, but, you know, for us, we can continue to expand, and evolve, and flourish, but not without a lot of focus and a lot of change constantly.
In an age when many traditional retailers are struggling, Americana Manhasset is doing quite well, especially as a mall. Wait. Sorry, shopping center. It’s a shopping center..